Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony commit to loot box disclosures

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Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will enact a policy requiring developers to disclose the odds of paid loot boxes.

Kings of the video game console world plan to require games hawking "loot boxes" to tell players how likely they are to get prized booty. "These required disclosures will also apply to game updates, if the update adds new loot box features". Effectively, it means that publishers looking to release games with loot boxes on any of the major console platforms will have to disclose the odds before they're accepted for release.

What are your own thoughts about this? This news came yesterday, on a day when the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a "workshop" investigating paid loot boxes.

Last year, in response to growing concerns about in-game spending, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) expanded its ratings disclosures to include an "In-Game Purchases" label on packaging for video games that offer the ability to purchase additional in-game content.
The approach also has led kids to spend more on games than their parents intended. Some countries consider loot boxes as a form of gambling or lottery and thus have banned games that incorporate them.

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While the initiative sounds good on paper, it will prove more interesting to see how it is put into practice, with the likes of EA (which is a notable loot box offender) finding creative ways to describe and sidestep its loot box mechanic in recent titles. This applies to all updates and new games that contain purchases like this, and the information must be presented in an understandable, available, and easily-accessed manner. These offers that are mostly purchased using real money have given diehard players great items be it weapons, skins, cosmetic rewards but have recently been raising eyebrows. The Platform holders are aims to implement new policies by 2020. Most publishers have since shied away from Loot Boxes and instead focus on up-front-microtransactions.

In an interview with The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson stated that they "believe in transparency with customers and providing them information for making their purchase decisions".

A list of all games companies that have signed up to the loot box disclosure agreement was made public by the ESA.

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